February 21, 2024

Kentucky has a deeply sealed and iron clasped gate in the industries that make home here. Just like bourbon and equine, coffee is an industry that is deemed untouchable for BIPOC people in the commonwealth and in the world.
But why? Coffee is a fruit originated in the motherland of melanated people. Coffee is sowed, reaped, rooted in the earth soil of Africa, South America, Southern/Pacific Asia and the Caribbean – beautiful farms maintained by melanated people. Coffee is washed, dried, fermented and processed by the hands of melanated people.
But why is it that the coffee industry continues this myth that Black people do not like coffee? Or the myth that Black people can’t afford quality coffee. Or the myth that Black and melanated people are not interested in the coffee industry.
More:Your ultimate guide to 15+ locally-owned Louisville coffee shops
Being Black and being in coffee in Louisville was a dark maze pre-2020. The spark of West Lou Coffee during the pandemic gave Black Louisvillians a lift in the specialty coffee industry and sparked an energy around not only who can be behind the bar, in service of others, but in the warehouse with the mechanics of the coffee bean. Along with Black baristas that spearheaded the local momentum within local cafes – West Lou Coffee expanded the education and scope of how Black coffee folks are engaging in Louisville’s coffee industry.
A special documentary coming to Speed Cinema has made its way around the globe and shares the roots, history and current waves of the specialty coffee industry. Memphis couple Bartholomew Jones and Renata Henderson are pioneers in the industry as they center Blackness in the pedagogy of their brand and coffee company to uplift and integrate Black and melanated people in the industry. Cxffee Black to Africa premiers at the Speed Cinema, September 25!
Every movement calls for collectivity. One thing coffee does is gather loved ones to hold space for each other. One dearest to my heart is The Color of Coffee Collective. The collective’s mission is to create educational opportunities within the coffee industry to help promote equity, sustainability and community within the industry. As BIPOC coffee shops begin to emerge and mobilize in their communities, it is important that there’s the ability to sustain and build as one grows.
The 2020 highlights of West Lou Coffee emerged, many Black owned cafes in the city grew like a renaissance. Brew and Sip, Abol Cafe, Van’s Coffee Tours, Julee’s Mocha, Old Louisville Coffee Cooperative, and Cafe Zinho, are all moving in formation to build the bridge of coffee to the community – our Black community.
A movement is happening in this city, in this country, across the globe. Black and melanated folks deserve a stake, education, equitable acknowledgement and wealth distribution in the specialty coffee industry -across farms, exports/imports, roasters and retail.
We have work to do. Extraction, exploitation and gatekeeping are no longer options. The roots of the latter are strong and deep in Kentucky but that does not mean we will continue to accept them.
For those who love Black people like they love black cxffee!
For Subscribers:Forget pumpkin spice: Here are 5 apple cider coffees to try this fall in Louisville
Shop single origin direct trade vs. fair trade – Fair trade is based on racialized capitalistic standards of wealth distribution. The farmer’s wages are compromised through a middle-man system with more extracts than investments in the producer.
Pay baristas fair wages- Just because. Tips are not considered wages. If you want artists (latte art), mechanics (cleaning espresso and coffee equipment), custodian (cafe maintenance), and a connoisseur — Pay for that!
Host affordable and accessible coffee education experiences.
Stop assuming Black people don’t like coffee, don’t know about coffee and don’t deserve to be Black in coffee spaces. 
Follow @blackloucoffee on Instagram and our local Black Coffee shops to gear up for the Louisville showing of CxffeeBlack to Africa at Speed Cinema, September 25.
Maya Black is a cultural worker and researcher raised in West Louisville, KY. She loves single origin Ethiopian coffee with a lil’ honey, community, and practicing mindfulness. Learn more about Maya’s work or inquire about her services to support your next project’s research and management atwww.mayablack.org.


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